Simulation-based training (SBT) holds great potential for rapid, inexpensive development of core cognitive skills related to operational goals. However, expertise in many skills requires extensive practice that is typically acquired from live experience in a learning process, and is not easily acquired from classroom instruction. Here we seek to examine the development of cognitive expertise using protocols that capitalize on the ability to quickly process large numbers of examples for repetitive practice, for example with hundreds of trials in an hour. Using this approach, we can easily quantify performance and track the learning progress over practice until expertise is exhibited. This approach will allows for the development of rapid, skillful, intuitive responding that resists stress and mental fatigue with robust measurement of expertise by assuring consistent and accurate performance across instances rather than only a single exam. In addition, adaptive training can be implemented over examples based on the ability to continually assess current knowledge and performance levels on the simplified task. This novel approach to skill training in a simulation-based environment is not envisioned as a replacement for existing SBT, in which carefully designed scenarios are worked through over an extended period of time to provide instruction on complex tasks. The primary challenges to realizing this opportunity are (1) developing tools to generate large numbers of training scenarios by accurate algorithmic (procedural) content creation, (2) creating the simplified task context in which a rapidly performed response captures key aspects of the skill being trained, and (3) validating the simulation-based training task in live contexts outside the simulation environment. Overcoming these challenges will enable the training of essential military cognitive skills, such as small-unit terrain reasoning, to be faster and more effective, saving significant training costs and increasing warfighter readiness. The overall proposed research plan is constructed around two tasks that reflect two elements of Land Navigation skills that will be trained by simulation: topographic map reading and terrain reasoning. Both tasks will build towards protocols that will be evaluated by assessing training efficacy with military personnel (Marine Infantry) receiving land navigation training. The first task will focus on the rapid development of perceptual skills associated with reading and understanding topographic maps. The second task will train a decision-making task related to route selection that depends on map reading. For each task, technical development of simulation-based stimuli and paradigms, plus initial testing with participants from the Northwestern University community, will be followed by refinement based on feedback from land-navigation SMEs and testing with marine personnel, assessed with traditional measures of skilled performance to establish that the novel training approach leads to quantifiable improvement.
|Effective start/end date||6/1/18 → 5/31/22|
- Office of Naval Research (N00014-18-1-2316 P00006)
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